The Congress’ strategy to corner the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in his constituency Budhni, had failed. By giving ticket to ex-MP Congress Committee (MPCC) president Arun Yadav Congress wanted to turn the turf in the CM’s home constituency into a high stakes battle and bind him to his constituency. But CM has stuck to his whirlwind tour- campaigning for BJP’s candidates in every nook and cranny of the state amid a resurgent Congress.
He has left the charge of campaigning in Budhni to his wife Sadhna Singh and elder son Kartikey Singh Chouhan. CM draws his confidence on holding on to his home turf from his past performance. The Party insiders too feel that since 2006 when Chouhan, after becoming the CM won from Budhni by 35,000-plus votes, the battle for his hometown has become increasingly one sided contest, as his winning margin grew to 41,500-plus votes in 2008 and a huge 84,805 votes in 2013.
Budhni constituency, located in Sehore district in Bhopal’s neighbourhood houses the CM’s village Jait. In the last 15 assembly elections (including two by polls) since 1957, BJP has won seven times, including Shivraj Singh Chouhan (1990, 2006, 2008 and 2013), Congress five times (last time in 1998) Janta Party once and independents twice.
Congress had fielded a strong candidate in ex-union minister Arun Yadav (son of powerful OBC leader and ex-deputy CM late Subhash Yadav) the contest will turn out ot be a tough one. The Congress had played the same card as played by the BJP in the year 2003 assembly election against the then CM Digvijaya Singh. Back then the present CM and the then member of parliament Chouhan was pitted against Digvijaya Singh.
The motive was to confine Singh to the Raghogarh constituency. However the strategy met with partial success as Singh had to remain in the constituency for more than two days. Singh’s winning margin too took a beating. This time Congress has given the charge of the Budhni to Arun Yadav. Interestingly some of the party insiders feel it’s more a psychological warfare and less of a contest which could well see history in the making. Though, Yadav claims that the prestigious battle for Budhni will be won by him.
Yadav’s edge: Disgruntled voters, Patel’s aid
The CM’s constituency this time is on the radar of the party’s central leadership as Yadav has been chosen to battle against the CM in Budhni by AICC president Rahul Gandhi himself. Also with ex- MP minister Raj Kumar Patel (a close aide of ex-CM Digvijaya Singh) who won the seat in 1993 himself coordinating the electioneering for Yadav, the contest is likely to turn tougher for CM with every passing day.
Videos of the CM’s wife and son unable to find befitting answers to the questions of voters complaining about inadequate development galore over social media has made the battle more interesting and provided motivation to the Congress rank and file of creating some magic after 20 years. The Congress has last won the seat in 1998.